Casio A171 Review - The New Casio Is Incredibly Cool…But Not What I Expected
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It’s time for me to shill some more Casios…or is it? You see, it’s no secret that Casio is my number one watch brand. Over the years they’ve made a plethora of affordable bangers; many of which I’ve featured on this very blog. Heck, I even did a ‘Top 20 Casio List’, because there are so many viable options that won’t let you down.
Therefore, I was immediately excited when I stumbled upon one of their latest releases that appeared to offer this nostalgic styling whilst foregoing the typical square shape. Indeed the pictures of this A171 showcased a digital piece with an unusual circular bezel and a more restrained display surround.
Yeah, I just had to get hold of one. So, I got Amazon to send one my way, thanks to them for covering the cost of it, you’ll find it affiliate linked throughout this post if you want to grab one. I’ve been trying it out for the past week or so and honestly…it’s not quite what I expected. Let’s get into it.
The watch arrived in the newer-style retro box that I’ve seen cropping up recently. It’s nothing fancy but leaves a much better initial impression than the ghastly faux-carbon packaging that is usually provided with these cheap Casios.
Thankfully, the watch itself looks just as good as in the pictures, with what I would describe as a modern interpretation of the retro aesthetic. The reason I say this is because this A171 maintains a similar colour scheme but looks less cluttered and better thought out than some of the previous iterations.
Not only is there lower text density, but this is split between fewer fonts, giving a more coherent and minimalistic appearance. I particularly like the improved symmetry, with the Casio logo at the top centre, as well as the grey function ring at the perimeter.
Together with the reconfigured case shape, it looks fantastic on wrist and definitely stands out amongst its square peers. You still get comparable proportions, with a 36.3mm diameter, 9.1mm thickness and a sub-40mm lug to lug (38.8mm), meaning it’s well suited to slim and average wrists but could look dwarfed on those with thicker arms.
One aspect I particularly like is the way that the bezel intersects with the squared-off lugs. I’m not sure why, but I just think it looks extremely cool.
Unfortunately, despite costing slightly more than some other models at around £30-£35, this one is still constructed of glossy resin; as is evident from the clashing tone of the steel bracelet. Whilst very lightweight, this material will accrue scratches very easily and honestly, I think this is a real missed opportunity.
I remember being underwhelmed by the stainless steel A1000 watches, yet I think this A171 could be a killer if that same material was implemented. This model has the looks and I’d be more than willing to pay extra to get this watch in a decent metal too.
Given the comparable sizing, I expected this A171 to essentially be a reskinned A168; however, it turns out my estimations weren’t quite accurate. You see, Casio cheapened out on the mechanics here, opting to use the inferior module present in the older A158 and F91 models, which has the awful side-light system, as opposed to the much brighter and clearer illuminator system present in pieces like the A168. Surely this would only have cost them a few pence more per unit, so I can only deduce that this a move to cut costs and save a buck.
Perhaps their excuse is that they’d rather not have the seemingly obligatory illuminator text stamped on the front, as is present on all of their digitals that use this technology, however, I’d argue that they could just stamp that marking on the back, as they did with the Casio Lineage model that I previously reviewed.
Aside from that, the module provides just the basic alarm and stopwatch functions, which I honestly think is enough for 99% of people. It’s just a shame they cut such an obvious corner.
Water Resistance and Crystal
The water performance and crystal are also worth analysing. You see, this watch has only been given an acrylic crystal and a 3bar splashproof rating, despite being priced slightly higher than some similar models. Sure, you can’t expect the world for the low RRP, but there are cheaper Casios that pack more scratch-resistant crystals or improved water resistance. Perhaps this watch outperforms the water rating, as other Casios are known to and for around £30.
Unsurprisingly, this is paired with a rudimentary rolled link bracelet, which pulls hairs but is fully adjustable and adequate for such a low-cost watch.
It turns out then that the new A171 is more like a re-cased A158, with identical specifications and the same module, just with an angled pusher arrangement. Honestly, outside of the backlight, I like the A158 and I think this A171 looks even better despite not offering the same bang for your buck.
This refresh looks good on a few different straps too and it definitely fits my style, so it’s probably still worth it to me but I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the aesthetic refresh is worth the slight price hike to you. If this were £50, I’d be screeching, but for £30 to £35, it’s alright.